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Sunday, May 27, 2012


Thu, 2012-05-10 11:14 -- jacques.compton

 “Social Empowerment” and not “Social Welfare” is the approach which will be taken by government to tackle the issue of poverty in Saint Lucia.    Presenting his 2012/2013 Budget Address on Tuesday May 8th, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Honourable  Dr. Kenny Anthony explained that throughout the world persons living below the poverty line have been hit the hardest during this global economic crisis. The groups most vulnerable as noted in the Prime Minister’s address are the young, the poor and single mothers.

In an effort to ease the financial squeeze, the Saint Lucian Government has made various promises which include focusing on two areas. The first area of focus is the provision of assistance and support to the vulnerable groups mentioned before. The second would be to improve on the actual delivery of these services. As in most cases in any civil service, bureaucracy tends to hamper the efficiency.

Out of the various social transformation programmes envisioned by the government, Dr. Anthony signalled two of the most prominent in his budget address - the Basic Needs Trust Fund BNTF and KOUDMEN SENT LISI.   According to the Prime Minister the former “seeks to assist poor communities in improving basic infrastructure and services and increase their potential for generating economic activity.” The BNFT programme will also seek to provide the much needed resources “for the implementation of sub-projects that support and improve the capacity of community-based organisations in the application of participatory approaches for planning, monitoring and decision-making.” It was stated that over nine million EC dollars would be allocated to the funding of this programme.

The second programme - 'Koudmen Sent Lisi', - according to Dr. Anthony “is aimed at providing families with comprehensive support systems, services and benefits to graduate from a situation of poverty, deprivation and vulnerability to a sustainable livelihood status.”

This strategy hopes to empower impoverished families by improving their living conditions and productive assets. Dr. Anthony noted - “The programme focuses on ensuring the presence of the minimum conditions a family needs to improve their quality of life and this is achieved by generating opportunities, access to essential services and providing them with needed resources to develop or recuperate their capacities. I am allocating $3.0 million for the implementation of this project.”

Additionally, the Public Assistance Programme will see many reforms. One of the most note worthy being the transferring of public assistance from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Social Transformation. In defence of the change, the Prime Minister heavily criticised the current processes involved.  In his own words “Saint Lucia’s current Public Assistance Act does not adequately meet the needs of the poverty reduction agenda of the country, because of the way it defines the poor and targets persons for assistance.  It also does not address issues of empowerment and human capital development of the poor or provide for a programme of assistance geared towards differential responses to poverty.”    It was stated that therefore the proposed reforms will address the weaknesses and shortcomings of the current system. Accountability, the Duplication of Services and the Receipt of Assistance under False Pretences will be dealt with under the proposed reforms within the public assistance services.

It is hoped that these reforms will add to the efforts of poverty reduction and improvement “of fiscal performance from medium to long term.” According to the address in the long term “This will ultimately bring improved robustness to Government’s social spending which would yield increased value for the money expended.”

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